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Post-tonsillectomy morbidity statistics: are they underestimated?

  • J Doshi (a1), M Damadora (a1), S Gregory (a1) and S Anari (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 March 2007

Post-tonsillectomy morbidity statistics are obtained when patients present to hospital with complications. The two common morbidities are pain and haemorrhage. Hospital-recorded morbidity rates may be an underestimation, as some patients are treated by general practitioners and are therefore not included in hospital audits.


Prospective, cohort, questionnaire study to assess: the post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage rate (i.e. actual rate versus hospital recorded rate); and the number of patients with post-operative pain and/or bleeding who were treated with antibiotics by their general practitioner.


The response rate was 76 per cent (70/92). The actual rate of secondary haemorrhage was three times that noted in the hospital records (15.7 vs 5.7 per cent, respectively). Fifteen patients (21 per cent) required extra analgesia after discharge. General practitioners prescribed antibiotics for pain alone in six patients (11 per cent).


The actual post-tonsillectomy haemorrhage rate is much higher than that recorded in hospital statistics. General practitioners differ in their treatment of post-tonsillectomy patients presenting with pain alone; some prescribe antibiotics in addition to analgesia.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Mr Jayesh Doshi, Apartment 20, Adderstone Court, 17 Adderstone Crescent, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 2EA, UK. Fax: 01706 646734 E-mail:
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Presented as a poster at the North of England ENT Society meeting, 10 March 2006, York, and at the 12th British Academy Conference in Otolaryngology and ENT Expo meeting, 5–7 July 2006, Birmingham, UK. Oral Presentation at the Midlands Insitute of Otology meeting 5 January 2007, Sloke-on-Trent, UK.

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10WC Lee , MC Duignan , RM Walsh , JR McRae-Moore . An audit of prophylactic antibiotic treatment following tonsillectomy in children. J Laryngol Otol 1996;110:357–9

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12V Raut . Bipolar scissors versus cold dissection tonsillectomy: a prospective, randomised, multi-unit study. Laryngoscope 2001;111:2178–82

13H Valtonen , Y Qvarnberg , K Blomgren . Patient contact with healthcare professsionals after elective tonsillectomy. Acta Otolaryngol 2004;124:1086–9

14T Jones , R Temple , P Morar , N Roland , J Rogers . General practitioner consultations after a paediatric tonsillectomy. Int J Paed Otolaryngol 1997;39:97102

15P Murthy , MR Laing . Dissection tonsillectomy: pattern of postoperative pain, medication and resumption of normal activity. J Laryngol Otol 1998;112:41–4

16CE Palme , P Tomasevic , DV Pohl . Evaluating the effects of oral prednisolone on recovery after tonsillectomy: a prospective, double blind, randomized trial. Laryngoscope 2000;110:2000–4

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